LPC Approves Ridley’s Landmark Restoration and Penthouse Addition on Grand Street

Posted on: January 14th, 2016 at 5:00 am by
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​Half of the former Ridley & Son’s department store – designated a city landmark – will be restored as part of a new residential conversion project. Less than a month after the positive advisory recommendation from Community Board 3, the Landmarks Preservation Commission followed suit during the hearing on Tuesday.

As previously reported, the owner of 315 Grand Street (aka 66 Allen) and Bromley Caldari Architects can now proceed in restoring the building to its original 1886 grandeur (e.g. replacing cast iron, swap unoriginal aluminum windows, remove fire escapes). As part of the restoration project, the architects are also changing the zoning to permit residential use on all five floors, plus the addition of a penthouse and elevator. As it stands, offices occupy floors two through four, with housing on the fifth floor.

This penthouse was the riskiest component of the plan, as it’s the most significant architectural alteration in decades. At 749 square-feet, the addition atop 315 Grand Street is pitched as a “light footprint” that’s not easily visible from street level.

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The penthouse mockup atop 315 Grand St.

Per YIMBY:

Commissioner Frederick Bland finds the clashing facades, with their “unresolved corner,” to be exciting. He said the “simple design” of the rooftop addition is appropriate and he was not bothered by its visibility. Commissioner Adi Shamir-Baron echoed Bland’s appreciation of the “collision” of the facades (ed: due to the widening of Allen Street in 1933). Commissioner Michael Devonshire appreciated the differences in the building and said he was hesitant to call it a “mongrel.” LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said it’s great that the building will be restored.

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The Historic Districts Council was more critical of the plan, though. They took issue with the window configuration and wanted more attention to the cast-iron restoration.

Regarding the cast iron restoration, the pilasters between the fourth and fifth stories need a little more attention. Originally, the fourth story pilasters between window openings had Doric capitals, and in classical order, the building’s pilasters terminated with Corinthian capitals at the fifth floor. The bases from these elements are also missing, and along with the appropriate capitals, we ask that these be brought back. The balustrade and finials which terminated the building’s columns are also missing. Without these details, the building appears stripped. Finally, the stone proposed for the bulkheads of the storefronts, while a quality material, is not an appropriate material on a cast-iron building.

Despite the backlash, the commissioners voted to approve the proposal with basic stiuplations. Namely that the applicant will work with LPC staff to ensure proper restoration and reduce visibility of the rooftop tumor.

Ridley & Sons Landmark Restoration Proposal

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